A s the winemaker for the Hospices de Beaune estate since 2015, Ludivine Griveau is at the forefront of the world's oldest charity auction. From the management of the 60 hectares of vines to the production of the Premiers Crus and Grands Crus, she acts as the link between the wine and the hospital. As guardian of a centuries-old heritage, Ludivine Griveau produces the 50 excellent cuvées that will be sold for charity on 21 November during the 161st Hospices de Beaune wine auction.
“My mission is to ensure the vineyard’s sustainability, with healthy vines to produce great wines.”
What is the role of the winemaker for the Hospices de Beaune?
The Hospices de Beaune is first and foremost a public hospital that has built up a heritage of 60 hectares of vineyards over time and with successive donations. It was a century and a half ago that the Hospices de Beaune took the gamble of exploiting the growing vineyard with the aim of producing wines, the profits of which are donated to the institution. As their winemaker, I am, in fact, working for the hospital in my own way! I consider myself to be a link in this incredible chain dedicated to the service of a noble cause. In concrete terms, on a daily basis, my work consists of the management of the 60 hectares of vines that are tended to by 23 employees. It is important to know that the vineyard is very fragmented, with 117 plots, each one requiring careful attention.
What is your philosophy in the vineyard and in the cellar?
My mission is to ensure the vineyard’s sustainability, with healthy vines to produce great wines. For almost 30 years now, the Hospices de Beaune have not used chemical weed killers, opting for practices that are increasingly respectful of the environment. It is important to remember that we are a health establishment. Our ethics must be consistent with our status! This is because, in the face of climatic upheaval, it is becoming urgent to adapt our practices and it is essential that the Hospices de Beaune be among the key players. My approach is to let nature express itself as sincerely as possible in the wines, while using modern oenological tools if necessary. This is why I make wines that respect the rhythm of maturity of the climates in each plot. This results in naturally precise wines, which better reflect their terroir.
The 161st Hospices de Beaune wine sale will take place on 21 November. What is the significance of this event?
It is the moment when the domain opens its doors, when we let the whole world see, unfiltered, all of our production! Chronologically, we are the first ones in to deliver the vintage and the result of an entire year’s work in Burgundy. It is something that we are immensely proud of. For the whole of the vineyard and the profession, this event is an essential marker of the quality of the vintage. And we must be among the best! It is this very ambition that makes me want to get up in the morning. This is because, in the name of charity, our wines must be excellent.
How are the "Trois Glorieuses" planned around the auction?
Burgundy has always had a tradition of celebrating its wines! The Hospices de Beaune wine sale is no exception to the rule, with a succession of three events taking place from Saturday evening to Monday at noon. It all starts at the Château du Clos de Vougeot on Saturday evening. Following the auction of our harvest, which takes place on Sunday afternoon in the Halles de Beaune, the gala dinner is held in the Hôtel-Dieu.
“ For the whole of the vineyard and the profession, this event is an essential marker of the quality of the vintage. In the name of charity, our wines must be excellent.”
The third and final part of this festive trilogy is the Paulée de Meursault, which takes place on Monday at noon at the Château de Meursault: a magical moment that brings together epicureans who have come to share their finest vintages! Throughout the weekend, it's a very festive moment in all of Beaune.
The highlight of the sale: la Pièce du Président. Who benefits from the funds collected?
This (la Pièce du Président) is a 228-liter barrel of our production, or 288 bottles, also called the Pièce de Charité, which we dedicate to a special sale for the benefit of an association chosen by the hospital and the city of Beaune. This barrel contains a unique wine from a selection of parcels with a marked identity. To promote its sale, a charismatic sponsor is selected by the association or the foundation, in order to defend the legitimacy of the charity in question. This high point of the auction is a unique opportunity for us to give back what we have received in favour of a charity. I am extremely proud to work, at every stage of the year in the vineyards and in the wine cellar, for such an honourable cause.